Be Still Know
Ephesians 4:2 NLT
‘Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.’
Growing up I confused arrogance for conviction. I would doggedly argue my case and stand my ground assuming that I was defending the truth, without acknowledging this was truth to me. I was so convinced with my own arguments that I could neither hear nor respond to what might have been excellent refinements to my own case. I alienated friend and foe alike by reducing everything to a binary choice.
The referendum on EU membership best illustrates the limitation of binary choices, for it requires proponents of either case to grow strident in attempting to win the argument by demolishing their opponent’s case. Could this ever have brought clarity or careful reflection? The consequence of a brutal public discourse has been increased alienation and division.
Humility is the ability to have a conviction in myself rather than my argument. Paul reminds us that we are to behave in a certain way despite our clear convictions about God. The cross has ushered in God’s kingdom here on earth, as it is in heaven. This can never be established by argument. It is behaviour that demonstrates conviction; a conviction that God is able to be true to both word and promise.
Bearing with each other in love invites me to reframe my approach towards others, especially those who annoy me. Perhaps I need to become more curious about both why I am annoyed, and also explore getting to know them as opposed to avoiding them. Having lived in community for years, and far more recently with Mum arriving, this behaviour commended by Paul has been tested and is subject to scrutiny.
Step one is always to move away from locating fault with the other, and reflecting first upon my own reactions and the narrative I create to support such reactions. Maybe there are complexities and issues that lie outside my control. Yet I want to be loved and accepted, and Jesus commanded I love neighbour as self. So it’s do as you would be done by.
QUESTION: How willing are you to make room in your life for God’s kingdom values and practices?
PRAYER: Lord, help me to learn from others today, to love, listen and serve.